Minimum Airtime

March 5, 2020 7:05 pm

chipping from just off the greenA great phrase to remember to improve your score on the short game is: “Minimum Airtime”.  In other words, if you do not need to knock the ball up into the air, don’t. If possible, use the other phrase: a bad putt works better than a bad chip. It’s a bit negative I guess, but it’s also true. If you are within a yard or so of the putting green and the grass verge is reasonable, then definitely use the putter.

But if there is just too much distance and rough grass in the way, then airborne your ball must go. This is when you must try to follow the adage of minimum airtime for your shot. Get the ball on the ground and rolling towards the hole with a 7 iron. Again, this is the right approach only when there are no obstructions in the way and there is also some room for the ball to roll, before reaching the pin.

Don’t overdo the lob wedge

If faced with a water hazard, bunkers or long grass on hills in front of you then you need another plan. Unfortunately, golf balls don’t roll well through water, sand and long grass, so the need for height points to a wedge. The choice of which one is dependent on how much elevation is required. Start with the pitching wedge if you can and leave the new sexy lob wedge as a last resort. When played correctly, the lob wedge means the ball will fly high and give you a nice soft landing. To achieve the distance required, due to this excessive elevation, the swing will need to be long and the clubhead speed considerable. If the contact of the shot is poor, particularly the one where the bottom edge of the club hits the equator of the ball, the ball will fly like an Exocet missile head height across the green and into the bushes behind.  We have all done that shot.  It’s very destructive, but avoidable, if you go for less loft and more roll.

When I take groups of people out onto the golf course, I have two main interests: that they have fun and get in before dark. Both of those aims are severely hindered by excessive use of lob wedges.

John Woodroffe, Master Professional – World of Golf London

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